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The Mommy Mindset: To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?

That is the question. While I have a few years before I need to decide on an answer, it has been on my mind. I went to public school as did my husband and I used to snicker about homeschooled kids. Immature? Yes. But just like modern cloth diapering isn’t all pins and rubber pants, modern homeschooling isn’t all sheltered unsocialized religious people either. (Was this ever the case? I don’t know but that sure was the stereotype, wasn’t it?)

I have teamed up with some fabulous Mommy bloggers on Facebook to discuss “current events” of parenting and mommyhood! I adore each of these ladies and am so excited to be a part of something so fun! This week’s moms include Cyndy from Mama Does It All, Ashley from Maryland Momma’s Rambles & Reviews, Darcy from Tales From the Nursery, Kathleen from Callista’s Ramblings, Heather from Full Price? Never!, Ghada from Mama Goes BAM, LaVonne from Long Wait for Isabella, Mariah from Formula Mom, Lena from Way2Goodlife, and Emily from Nap Time is My Time.

The Mommy Mindset: Homeschooling

Cyndy: Gwen is about to be 4 years old and currently attends preschool two days each week. We do a lot of educational activities with her but not necessarily in a formal or planned way. She will be old enough to start kindergarten in August 2013 (God help me!) and so we are already starting to explore our options: Public school, private school, home school full-time, home school co-op….I’d love to know if anyone has been through this decision process and/or is going to go through this process – lessons learned, things to consider, etc. This is a road I have not been down before.

Ashley: I am very happy with the public and private school options in my town for elementary age and younger. While homeschooling would not fit with my family, I do know several parents who have opted to join home school co-ops and they couldn’t be happier with their decisions. There is such a personality change, for the better, in their children. Every family and every child’s needs are different. Try to think of where your daughter will thrive the most. Best of luck in your decision-making!

Darcy: I’m curious to hear more. While my daughter is only about 16 months old, I’ve been thinking more and more about homeschooling. I was a public school kid and went to good schools, but .. I don’t know what this district is like and there’s just so much crap and politics that I feel shouldn’t be factoring into what is/isn’t taught. I never would have considered homeschooling til I had my daughter, so it’s kind of hard for me to admit considering it, actually.

Kathleen: I was planning to homeschool since before I had kids. My husband wasn’t sure about it but he agreed that I would homeschool kindergarten at least and then once he saw that they were learning and still socializing, he would be okay with it. I did preschool homeschool with themes and daily activities. However my kids are now 4 and 6 and are in school. What happened? I am struggling with mental illness. I am doing pretty good right now but when I’m struggling more, I have no drive to do anything and I stopped preschool homeschool for months. This showed me that maybe homeschooling wasn’t right for me after all. I couldn’t just stop schooling them whenever I was in the middle of a depression. So they go to school but we do extra activities whenever I can and they are doing great.

Heather: I’m on my third… and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that each child is completely different and reevaluate your choice each year {sometimes more often}! My first went to a private Montessori school starting at 2 1/2 till 2nd grade… the class size was just too small. You would think that would be a good thing… but she needed a bigger pool of children to socialize with. We moved her to a public school and she’s thrived. My second was in the Montessori school till Kindergarten when we moved her to the public school. I had learned my lesson with my first daughter and moved her earlier. It worked great. Now number 3 will be starting preschool in the next year and I have the same plan for her… but I also realize that she is her own person and she might benefit from a smaller environment for longer.

Ghada: My son is doing 3 days at pre-k and though I thought enrolling him to kindergarten for Sept 2012 was going to be a minefield, it was relatively painless. Luckily, Brooklyn has some of the best public schools in New York (so I’ve been told). I went on a tour of the school we are zoned for, and as a former teacher I have to say I was impressed. Well resourced and inviting. So we’re set for September. I was looking for a school that would play to his strengths and foster basic skills at the same time. At our former neighborhood I had been invited to join an informal pre-k coop. That might be an idea for you, Cyndy. Basically this group of children with their parents met at each others house 3 times per week for 3 hours each time. One parent was responsible for the lesson that morning, the other 4-5 parents did not really need to get involved. They had set out a theme for each month beforehand, and each parent was responsible for teaching a week. You get to see how good you are with planning, while giving your child a chance to socialize, as well as yourself. Most successful homeschool scenarios I know work much like that. 2-3 days at home , 1-2 days with a group of homeschoolers and 1 day on an outing. do you have a homeschool network in your area?

Cyndy: I think there are a couple networks and I’m most interested in the coop option I think. I share some of Darcy’s concerns about values and I am also concerned about the “teaching to the test” phenomenon that I have seen play out in some school systems.

Darcy: Yes teaching to the test is not good for real world application. I like the way you can individualize the learning better homeschooling. Like, working on 5th grade English and 4th grade math for one child instead of the one size fits all regardless of age and learning style.

Kathleen: Darcy, that was a big selling point for me for homeschooling. That you could tailor the learning for each child and skip over things they understand or give extra help in other areas. I liked the idea of having the kids pick a topic they are interested in at the moment (like princesses or ancient civilizations or animals) and doing activities in the different subjects on that theme

LaVonne: My daughter is 4 and we just started a P4 homeschool curriculum with her this year. She is thriving. Luckily we get a lot of social interaction as well so this works for us. I am going to continue to homeschool, but each year I will re-evaluate if it is working for her. I am not set on homeschool only, but I prefer it. I actually just hate the thought of sending her out of the house at the age of 5. I want to control what she is learning and what she is exposed to, to a large degree at this age. (I hope that doesn’t make me too much of a control freak.)

Cyndy: I think I’m leaning toward co-op so that she maintains social interaction. We don’t do a lot of play dates (I don’t do the whole play date thing very well lol), so I kind of need a co-op to get through I think

Mariah: I am a teacher and I do believe in the teachers in public schools. They are some incredible people. Still, it’s not for everyone. My sister was an example of that. Due to health issues, she had to be homeschooled for a few years. I think it’s something you have to look at each year and decide what is working best for you and your family. Above all else, the child needs to be at the center of the decision. I would love to be able to homeschool W to give him all of the variety of experiences I think are important to learning but now sometimes get lost in the organized chaos of the public school day. Maybe by the time he’s kindergarten age I will be able to do that!

Darcy: I think even if you don’t homeschool per se that you should still be involved with some supplemental learning at home. Especially if you are aware of any weakness in your district and/or you are unable to do it full time for whatever reason. Kids do well with involved parents, right?

Kathleen: Very true Darcy, I think all parents should be more involved with their child’s learning.

Lena: I see so many people homeschooling and I really have my doubts. Don’t you think that the social element is suffering? I understand kids still interact with some kids, but how about the social environment they will have to deal on a day to day basis. Wouldn’t that be more difficult for them at the older age?

Cyndy: My guess is in the end we will either co-op or she will go into the public school district and we will, of course, be heavily involved. Of course that’s a whole other topic as I think I need advice on getting involved. My husband says I scare people and I really don’t mean to – I am a yankee in Texas!

Darcy: I think the lack of socialization is still the old homeschool stereotype. Homeschooling communities and such look much different than it used to.

LaVonne: Where we live there is a homeschool cooperative with over 100 families. These families get together and have play dates, field trips, and classes together, so homeschooling has gotten much better I think from when we were children. (We even have our own Facebook group and place to swap Homeschool curriculum.)

Emily: I am on the fence about homeschooling, too. I would love to do it, but I’m not sure that I could. There are a few subjects that I am not confident enough with. We have several charter schools – as well as the ‘school choice’ program – that are available to us. As it stands now, we’ll be enrolling in private school for K-2 and see what happens with our school district. As I understand now, it’s in good shape (with regards to the test scores on the standardized tests), but a lot can happen by the time we’re ready to enroll.

Ghada: The target learning is what I really like about Mr 4’s new school. Yes, they have a curriculum they need to follow, but they also have lots of methods for personalizing reading, science and the arts. I have to trust that my husband and I can do our part to further foster his strengths. I don’t think I would enjoy homeschooling.

Do you home school? What are your thoughts on homeschooling?